Now that the book is off to the printers, it’s time to start over. Like at the bar at the end of the night, when it’s time to ‘Z’ out the register.

It’s strange how all-consuming these things get, then you press send and there’s nothing left. I flip through the digital version of the book absentmindedly now, because I’m no longer in it. Like the cord’s been pulled from its socket and all the parts that used to hold a charge have gone dark, lifeless. It’s not mine anymore. Soon it’ll be yours, and if it works the way I hope it does, you’ll get something out of it. But it’s dead to me.

I have to find something new to obsess over. There are a few just-started things I set aside during the final push to finish the book. Another collage book. A stack of thrift-store canvases, gessoed over, waiting to be painted. This is the in-between time when I’m sort of spent, a little confused. Sort of like waking up after a long bender. I need time to recover, get my bearings.

I’m reading William Gaddis’s JR for the third time. It’s one of my favorite books and a great one to take me down a few pegs when thinking about my own writing efforts. It’s good to feel humbled, especially when wiping the slate clean, as I’m doing now. To get rid of any delusions of grandeur or confusion about my own abilities. What Gaddis does with speech, orchestrating multiple voices into a crazy-quilt symphony, is so far beyond me I may as well be scrawling with Crayolas, working out my ABCs.

This nothing feeling is valuable because it’s a time to come up for air. When I’m into the work, there’s almost nothing else. But at the moment I can look around, skim this or that, not get bogged down. It’s sort of a treat because it’s not my default. And because I know it won’t last long. In a few days I’ll be up to my neck in the next thing, forgetting about everything before or after; all trees, no forest.